Number of children groomed to send sex abuse images DOUBLES

Number of children groomed to send sex abuse images of themselves DOUBLED during first half of this year, charity says

  • MPs have warned of ‘disgusting’ rise in so-called ‘self-generated’ abuse material
  • Internet Watch Foundation reports 117% increase in abusive images and videos
  • Home Office urged to make it easier for children to have online images removed 

Children are increasingly being groomed or coerced by adults into sexually abusing themselves on camera.

MPs have warned of a ‘disturbing’ rise in so-called ‘self-generated’ child sexual abuse material, especially during the pandemic.

In the first six months of 2021, the Internet Watch Foundation recorded a 117 per cent increase in abusive images and videos created using webcams or smartphones.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media said social media firms must not encrypt messages unless they can keep platforms free of illegal content. 

And it says the Home Office must review legislation to ensure it is easier for children to have their online images removed.

Children are increasingly being groomed or coerced by adults into sexually abusing themselves on camera

APPG chairman Labour MP Chris Elmore said firms ‘need to get a grip, with institutional re-design, including the introduction of a duty-of-care on the part of companies toward their young users’. 

Susie Hargreaves, of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: ‘The Report Remove tool we launched this year with Childline empowers young people to have illegal images of themselves removed.’ 

Self-generated content can include material filmed using webcams, very often in the child’s own room, and then shared online.

In some cases, children are groomed, deceived or extorted into producing and sharing a sexual image or video of themselves.

The APPG’s report, Selfie Generation – What’s Behind The Rise Of Self-Generated Indecent Images Of Children?, says the trend ‘seems to have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis’.

The MPs say many witnesses ‘raised very real concerns’ about the impact of encryption on child protection, saying it could ‘cripple’ the ability of programmes to detect illegal imagery.

They write: ‘The APPG believes it is completely unacceptable for a company to encrypt a service that has many child users.

‘Doing this would do so much damage to child protection. We recommend that technology companies do not encrypt their services until a workable solution can be found that ensures equivalency with the current arrangements for the detection of this imagery.’

Among 10 recommendations, the report says it should be replaced by ‘first person produced imagery’ to avoid inadvertent victim blaming.

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